James Huang, one of the pioneers of Asian cuisine in Houston, opened the white-tablecloth Hunan Restaurant on Post Oak in 1976, then added a downtown location (812 Capitol) in 2000. The Post Oak restaurant recently closed because of renovations at the shopping center it occupied, but Gigi, James's daughter, plans to reopen it someday. In the meantime, she's busy opening her own place: Gigi's Asian Bistro and Dumpling House (5085 Westheimer, Galleria II), tucked between the great eagle (Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse) and the great fish (Oceanaire) in the Galleria space once occupied by Lord & Taylor.
Gigi says she's serving up dishes from all over Asia. You can see the influence of Executive Chef Junnajet Hurapan, a native of Thailand, on the menu: Offerings include Thai dishes such as spicy tom-yum soup, beef satay, pad Thai, Massaman lamb curry and Panang beef. There's also pho, the Vietnamese noodle soup, and Chinese favorites such as sesame chicken. You can even order some of the popular dishes served at Hunan — try the firecracker prawns and the summit delight (chicken wrapped in asparagus).
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As for the decor, it's a cooling blend of wood, silk and cherry blossoms. "People have described the interior as something out of Southeast Asia," says Gigi. Looks like she's hit it spot on. — Paul Galvani